Maria Cavaco Silva

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Maria Cavaco Silva
First Lady of Portugal
Assumed office
9 March 2006
President Aníbal Cavaco Silva
Preceded by Maria José Rodrigues Ritta
Personal details
Born (1938-03-19) 19 March 1938 (age 76)
São Bartolomeu de Messines, Silves, Algarve, Portugal
Nationality Portuguese
Spouse(s) Aníbal Cavaco Silva (m. 1963)
Children Bruno and Patrícia Maria
Residence Palácio de Belém (official)
Alma mater University of Lisbon

Maria Alves da Silva Cavaco Silva (born São Bartolomeu de Messines, 19 March 1938) is the wife of Aníbal Cavaco Silva, incumbent President of the Portuguese Republic and, as such, is the current First Lady of Portugal, since her husband's election in 2006.

A Professor of Portuguese Language and Culture, Maria Cavaco Silva has been dedicating her attention to education and culture issues, but also to social solidarity and cohesion.


Maria Cavaco Silva was born Maria Alves da Silva, to Francisco dos Santos Silva and Adelina de Jesus Pincho, on 19 March 1938, in São Bartolomeu de Messines, Silves (Algarve). Her mother died in her youth, and she ended up being raised by her uncle and aunt in Lisbon.[1]

She Licentiated in Germanic Philology from the University of Lisbon in 1960. Her final thesis was about "Yearning (saudade) in Hölderlin's Poetry". She also has a degree in Pedagogical Sciences from that same University, and began working as a teacher in 1960, in the Colégio das Doroteias. She has also taught in the Liceu Passos Manuel, Liceu Rainha D. Leonor and Liceu D. João de Castro, all of them in Lisbon.[2]

It was while holidaying in the Algarve that she met Aníbal Cavaco Silva,[1] whom she married on 20 October 1963.[2] Later that same year, her husband was summoned for military duty in the Colonial War, in the then-Portuguese Overseas Province of Mozambique, and Maria Cavaco Silva accompanied him. She lived in Lourenço Marques (modern-day Maputo), where she taught Portuguese language and foreign languages at Liceu Salazar and Liceu D. Ana da Costa Portugal.[2] In 1971, they both moved to York, in England, while her husband studied Economics in the University of York. Once there, Maria Cavaco Silva attended German and Italian courses at the Language Teaching Centre, and taught Portuguese privately to foreigners. Simultaneously, she enjoyed the opportunity to deepen her knowledge of English culture and language. The Cavaco Silvas returned to Portugal in 1974.[2]

In 1977, Maria became a lecturer of Portuguese language of the Philosophy course at the Catholic University, in Lisbon. Starting in 1981, she taught the same subject in the Theology course, and the Portuguese Language and Culture subject of the Law course of the Faculty of Human Sciences of that University. Still in this Faculty, she headed, in July/August 1985, the Luso-American summer course about "The Portuguese Language in Contemporary Portuguese Novels". She then began teaching the Annual Portuguese Course for Foreigners, in the Socrates/Erasmus programme, which she led until 2006. Today, she is still connected to that University, and occasionally gives lectures on Literature and Portuguese Culture. She was teaching there during her husband's term as Prime Minister of Portugal (from 1985 to 1995)[2]

On 22 January 2006, her husband was elected President of Portugal, with 50,6% of the votes. She became the First Lady of Portugal, succeeding Maria José Ritta, Jorge Sampaio's wife, in March of that year. Her activity agenda included the challenges that families and the youth face in today's world, or the new demands in social assistance. As it had already happened in the 1980s and the 1990s, when her husband was Prime Minister, attending official acts and institutional events, as well as contacting with organisations, associations and several entities of the civil society, is a large part of her daily routine.[2] The couple currently has two children and five grandchildren.


Foreign honours[edit]

She received the following orders:[3]

Other honours[edit]


Honorary titles
Preceded by
Maria José Ritta
First Lady of Portugal